by Marian Thornley

Ayurveda Yoga to boost the brain
Marian Thornley

I read a very interesting article in a UK newspaper recently, entitled “What your gut is telling you”.

The article explained the growing recognition of the stomach as the “second brain” – an organ capable of working independently of the brain and spinal cord.

Western doctors and scientists are coming to increasingly understand the highly complex role that the stomach plays in determining the health of the rest of the body, and the article cites diseases such as Parkinson’s, depression, autism and osteoporosis which display early symptoms in the gut.

The news here is that the health of the digestive system impacts on our other physiological and psychological systems as well as the other way around, which is what most of us assume.

Don’t we all tend to think that if we are stressed, our tummies will suffer, not recognising that any weakness in our digestive systems will also wreak havoc on our general health.

I was interested in the article as it was well written and interesting, but also because I just love it when science and yoga come to the same conclusions.


Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, is all about how to stay healthy and the core of its teachings revolve around the digestive system: the stomach, intestines and bowel.

The way Ayurveda sees it, alien bacteria are allowed into our systems when we digest our food poorly, and this poor digestion results in toxins, which the ancient Indians called ama.

When there is a build-up of ama in the digestive tract, other undesirable organisms begin to thrive, eventually causing a poisoning of our physical and mental processes.

If allowed to continue unchecked, this can result in serious disease. Our immune system has an innate ability to distinguish between friend and foe, and is controlled by what Ayurveda terms ahamkara.

It is the ahamkara which recognises each of your cells as friend and alien invaders as foe. The ancient rishis (seers) worshipped their own ahamkara as a mother with whom they had a loving relationship, understanding that good spiritual health is a prerequisite for good physical and mental health.

If we have a loving relationship with ourselves, and hence only eat food that is good for us,  taking care to eat slowly, with awareness, and at regular times of the day, we are showing respect to our ahamkara. In turn she will protect us from alien invasion and keep us healthy.

If you suffer from long-running digestive troubles which your doctor has been unable to cure, try consulting an Ayurveda specialist, or if you are interested to read more about this fascinating science I would recommend Prakriti, Your Ayurvedic Constitution by Dr R.E. Svoboda, which is a good introduction to the subject.

Marian teaches yoga in Ceret and is particularly interested in the use of yoga as a tool for health and healing. For more information contact Marian on


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